In a previous blogpost I extolled at great length the many ways in which a fascinating plant called the teasel was extremely beneficial to wildlife. In the summer therefore, our garden played host to a number of lovely butterflies:
The teasel also kept us human beings interested by drowning passing insects and slowly absorbing the chemicals from their bodies. Here is the teasel in flower:
I hope you have not forgotten though, how I made a solemn promise that, when the seeds had matured, the seed heads would play host to one of our most beautiful birds, the Goldfinch.
They should have been here in autumn, but now, at last, they have finally made their long awaited appearance. I, of course, missed them on their first visit, but my daughter and fellow blogger saw them and took a few photographs. Here are some of them.
Firstly, it may actually be a case of “Spot the bird”:
Not always an easy decision to make:
Yes, at last, a Goldfinch:
As far as I know, the males and females are the same:
This amazingly spikey plant is called a “teasel”, and it is easily the most fascinating plant in our garden.
It is a very thrilling plant from an English point of view, for, alas, we just do not seem to have the same exciting inhabitants in our gardens as they have in the USA…..
These American killers are deadlier than wolves or bears.
Our English plant, though, can consume a reasonable number of insects, medium sized mammals and small children.
It performs this valuable service by drowning them, and then absorbing their nutrients. Equally well, you can easily feed the plant yourself by tipping in the dregs from your cup of tea or coffee. On this caffeine based diet, our plant has now reached an amazing twenty seven flower heads. Here are two of them….
The biggest flower heads are now in bloom. They provide a fabulous source of nectar for all kinds of interesting flying insect, especially butterflies….
This is a Peacock…
This is a Red Admiral. Its Latin scientific name is “Vanessa atalanta”, which sounds a little bit like one of the old Admiral’s girls in every port…
The flowerheads are a lovely bluey-pink colour…
Eventually seeds will appear. Indeed, in our worryingly early autumn, many have already arrived as early as the fifth of August.
The seedheads are an absolute magnet to England’s most colourful bird, the improbably beautiful Goldfinch…
The population of these splendid birds is gradually increasing, and teasels are an excellent way to entice them into your garden.
This could easily be your garden…
I would be very surprised, though, if you managed to attract as many of these beautiful birds as Gunnar Fernqvist has done, although, to be fair, he does seem to have a VERY large garden.
Interestingly, the Goldfinch has always been of great symbolism in medieval European art. According to Wikipedia, because of the thistle seeds it eats, and the spiky nature of the adult thistle plant, the goldfinch is associated with Christ’s crown of thorns. When it appears in pictures of the Madonna and child, the bird is thought to represent the knowledge both Mary and Jesus had of the latter’s Crucifixion.
Teasel seeds can be found fairly easily on your local brownfield site in late summer or early autumn. Otherwise, it’s another expedition up the Amazon.co.uk….